Thursday, December 31, 2009

An Ode To My Faithful Reader In Woodsboro, Texas

Howdy.  I don't know who you are, but you sure keep my spirits up about this blogging thing, even though you don't seem to comment, which you are certainly welcome to do.  Thanks for reading!  

Happy New Year.

Goals For The New Year

The only ones of my resolutions that I really was successful at this year was keeping up with Lone Star Baby centric activities and getting my students to memorize stuff - not the stuff I really needed the most work on, in the big picture.  We did pretty well on focusing on more Lone Star Girl centric stuff in fits and starts but the summer's appendectomy kind of got in the way.  I'm rather discouraged at how things always seem to get away from me - always - but I feel like I should keep setting goals anyway.  So here goes:


              1.)  2010 will be a big year for the girls.  Both will start new schools in the fall and we don't as yet know what school either will go to, as there are tests and application processes to be gotten through and such.  Goal number one is to therefore get the Lone Star Baby settled successfully into her new school for first grade and the Lone Star Girl settled successfully into high school!  2.)  Continue carving out enough time for the girl's activities  and social lives, including guiding the Lone Star Girl's Girl Scout troop successfully through the completion of their Silver Awards.  3.)  Have more fun with the husband - this never seems to make it to the top of the list, but it needs to.  4. More organizing this summer - like getting to one more room, which I didn't do this year.

Health and Fitness:

           1.)  Since I didn't lose any weight this past year, I need to lose more this year:  26 pounds at least! 2.) Spend more time with friends - this one is for mental health.  Most of my closest support system picked up and moved out of state at summer's close, so I need to  work on that.


       I'm going to have to stick with the serenity thing.  There are other things, of course, but none of them are as important as that. 


         I had set myself a more recent goal of finishing a first draft of my Baby Moon book by the new year and I came very close but I'm not going to make it.  All of the essays are written but my resources chapter still needs work and I haven't started the introduction chapter yet.  I will finish it before January's up, though, so my first writing goal is:  1.)  Revise Baby Moon and get  proposals out on it  (after seriously celebrating getting the first draft done).  2.)  Get poetry or articles or essays accepted for publication in 3 new markets.  3.)  (for summer and after) Finish first draft of poetry book.

I am reminded that a really good thing we did do this year is work hard to fight Las Brisas so that our children and the children of this community can remain well.  We  wrote articles and letters and e-mails and passed out information and held demonstrations.  Not too shabby.  Things are changing, but that fight will continue for awhile, in one form or another.  Sometimes we have to put aside goals we planned for more important goals that come up, and I guess that isn't bad.  We did what we needed to do this year and that is what counts.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Language Baby, Government Girl And The Unknowable Future

I often think that the Lone Star Baby would make a good linguist someday because she is so interested in words.  She has always been strangely verbal and now is at the point where she can actually express some of the things she is thinking about language.  Her revelations are interesting to me, but I continue to be surprised at the things she comes up with at her age.

One day, she was reading to me and read a word that had "ai" in it.  She then felt the need to expound:

LSB: I know the A-I phonogram.  It says A.
Me:  Did you just say phonogram?

Another day, rather out of the blue:

LSB:  Trilingual.
Me:  You mean like L- in your class?  Because he speaks English, Spanish and German?
LSB:  Yes.  I'm....bilingual.
Me:  Yes, you are.  You speak English and Spanish.
LSB:  I'm a little bit trilingual because L- taught me some aleman.  I know tannenbaum and shmooshtia (note from me:  I have no idea how to spell the latter - she says it means "teddy bear").
Me:  Yes, a little bit.

Today, also out of the blue:

LSB:  Kangaroo has three.
Me:  What do you mean?  Who's Kangaroo?
LSB:  No; kangaroo has three.  I forgot the word.  Kang-a-roo (clapping three times).
Me:  Syllables?
LSB:  Yes.  Syllables.  Cookie has two.

As entrancing as I find all of this, I have to wonder what will become of my sensitive, cerebral child in the post-climate change future.  Her other main topic of contemplation (if you don't count television) is theology and we belong to a religious community that does not do "hireling priests".  I have real doubts about the future of employment for linguists and theology professors in the future we are headed to.  My eldest also seems most suited to a career as a college professor or as a policy analyst in a think tank, but I fear there will be no place for useless intellectuals like ourselves in the future they will face.  Perhaps we should be pushing them towards training in agriculture?  Midwifery?  It's so hard to know whether to encourage them to embrace their gifts or train for survival in a harsher world.



My eighth-grader did better than 99% of high school sophomores on the critical reading section of the PSATs.  She's had a lot of practice reading, that one(:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May Joy and Peace and Love be yours this holiday season and always! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Really Important Innovation In History

The Lone Star Girl did her National History Day Project on contraception (this year's theme was innovations in history).  Needless to say, the judges did not send it on to the next step of the middle school competition.  It was great, though:  an extensive time line spanning from the book of Genesis to the development of emergency contraception in 2002, an informatively classified display of examples (with a border of condom packets), and a display of important people in the development of various methods, including Charles Goodyear, who apparently had more important things on his mind than just tires - who knew? All while staying within a 500-word limit!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Demographer Girl

My primary sheroes are the indomitable women of Hull House - Jane Addams and her comadres who founded the social work profession.  They spent much time wandering around the poor neighborhoods of Chicago, just gathering demographic information about the people who lived there - something few others had cared to do.  Yesterday, my Girl was worthy of them.

The Lone Star Girl and her little partner are doing their science project on (loosely) whether people living within two miles of our local refineries have more health problmes than people living over 15 miles away from them.  The LSG's little partner lives way away from the refineries so she did that part of the experiment, taking their survey to folks in her neighborhood.  I took the LSG to the north side of town near the refineres, though, and she wandered around senior centers and churches and daycare centers with her surveys, even after her science teacher had told her it wouldn't be safe for her to be going around talking to people in that neighborhood.  She did great. (Didn't much help her asthma, though - you really can tell you are close to the refineries.)

First Day School: Christmas

Since we only meet twice each month, on our first Meeting in December, I went over all four Advent lessons with the Lone Star Baby instead of doing them one at a time.  It worked well.  She likes the idea of the Prophets pointing the way to Bethlehem.  She was rather struck by the idea of Bethlehem in general, I think.  In her work time, she ignored most of the materials I had set out and took out paper and markers and drew Bethlehem using the wooden city from the lesson as a model. 

This past Sunday, we did a lesson the mystery of Christmas using materials taken from Madeleine L'Engle's The Glorious Impossible. It was very nice.  The church where we meet had apparently had a pageant and they had a rather wonderful home-made creche set still up on the labyrinth (no figures, just the set) so we visited it.  The Lone Star Baby took a baby doll from the Sunday School room and pretended to be Mary with Baby Jesus.  I got to be Joseph.  I also got to be Simeon at the Temple.  After the Magi came to visit, we fled to Egypt down the hall.  Mary was very firm that we should not return to Nazareth until it was safe.

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Day School: New Beginnings

Not quite two years ago, some Catholic friends happened to be talking about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd around me and I asked a lot of questions and found out that it was a Montessori-based form of religious education that some Catholics use and that has been adapted for use for some other faiths as well.  Being a Montessori mom and our Meeting's First Day School teacher, I was pretty excited.  I read some books and a training manual and got thinking about how I could adapt it for our First Day School. 

For a long time, the Lone Star Girl was the only Quaker child in town.  I started doing a sort of home First Day School with her when she was about three and tried to get her to the Austin Meeting every now and then so that she could see that there were other Quaker children in the world.  When she was six years old, a nine-year-old girl walked into Meeting one day with her parents and a whole other chapter of our lives started.  The girls had First Day School together after that and we sort of muddled through.  We learned about the testimonies and Quaker history and read many novels that illustrated both, but I found that the girls were truly the leaders and rather resistant to my planning any sort of curriculum for a long time.  They did pretty well on their own, though.  They instigated a project that resulted (with much help) in a peace quilt that travels around South Central Yearly Meeting now and starting a couple of years ago, they began a study of world religions, which I think is an excellent course of study for teens in their religious education, all adolescents being seekers as they are. 

When the Lone Star Baby was nearing three, a new family joined our Meeting, with a daughter her age.  We decided to start thinking about First Day School for them when they were both three.  By that time, our new child had a baby brother and a family with a six-year-old and a nine-year-old came to a few Meetings.  I decided I needed to get this First Day School thing in gear!  

I brought the idea of a modified-for-Quakers Montessori-based curriculum to a Meeting for Business and the Meeting was happy with that so I started making materials.  I made the Good Shepherd and added His sheep.  I made a little Quaker meeting with clothespin people to represent the adult and children and a little dove to represent the Holy Spirit.  As Christmas approached last year, I made a clothespin Angel and Mary with another little dove for the Annunciation.  By that time, the newest family with the school-aged kids wasn't attending anymore to my dismay, but I had two sort of "classes" - the two big girls who met before Meeting and the two little girls who met during and who were still pretty wild and used to playing rather than settling down for First Day School. 

Last summer, both of the other Quaker families with children in our Meeting moved out of state.  

I was pretty devastated as were my girls.  We miss them terribly.  Now my kids are the only Quaker kids  in town again.  There was one new family with three kids who came a couple of times but they live in Kingsville and found that just too far to drive.

The only good thing to come out of the move is that, now that we couldn't meet at our clerk's house anymore since he moved, we started meeting at a church where our new clerk works. It has a Sunday School room that is fully stocked with Godly Play materials that we may use.  Godly Play, as it turns out, grew out of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  In fact, as it turns out, there are already a tiny bit of Quaker adapted materials out there known as Faith "N' Play.  Not all of the Godly Play materials can be adapted to our First Day School needs (as some involve liturgy and sacraments) but many, many of them can and I have been able to adapt them for our use while maintaining the wonderful Montessori-based nature of the materials.  It has really been wonderful.  The Lone Star Baby connects deeply to wonder-based nature of the work and has become very spiritual.

Right now, my "Little Friends and Lower Elementary" class (which consists currently of just the Lone Star Baby) is focusing on the Quaker belief that the Light of God is within everyone.  We are using the materials on the life of Christ - and mainly the parables - to study this at the moment which should continue through this school year at least.  The parable materials are really amazing.  We will use the Old Testament materials in the same way eventually and will cover the testimonies next year.  

My "Young Friends and Junior Young Friends" (middle and high school) class (which currently consists of just the Lone Star Girl) is still studying world religions.  When our other teen was still here, they studied Hinduism, Jainism, Wicca and other earth-based Goddess religions, Judaism, and Islam.  Since we've been on our own, I finally got a copy of the UU Neighboring Faiths curriculum that I had been wanting to use (the original idea for this course of study had been that I would just send the teens to the UU classes since they are experts at this, but they weren't doing this curriculum at the time) and I am trying to organize much of the rest of this course of study using their format.  We are into the various sects and denominations of Christianity now and have studied the high-ritual end with Catholicism, Episcopalians and Eastern Orthodox.  Now we are working on the "Holy Book" oriented groups like Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists and some Baptist groups.

If you are in Corpus and would like to send your kids to our First Day School, the big kid(s) meet at 1pm on first and third Sundays and the little kid(s) meet during Meeting at 2pm on first and third Sundays at All Saints Episcopal Church.  We'd love to grow our First Day School again!

Double Vision

Ourselves we are having a very nice holiday together, but I am deeply worried about an illness in a close family member in another city these last few days, worried in the sort of way that permeates everything you do and makes every other thought into a prayer.  It is an odd feeling to be happy and peaceful about our own Christmas together and at the same time scared and pleading in a place in my mind that I am trying not to share with the children.  Both feelings seem equally real.  Please hold my loved one in the Light.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jesus Was An Illegal Immigrant

Remember when his family fled to Egypt to escape persecution?  Yep.  I'm just saying.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Right-Wing U.S. Fundamentalists Did This

Uganda is passing a law that basically will separate people who are gay from society altogether, imprisoning (and sometimes killing) them in most instances.  Anyone who speaks out against it is considered to be in violation of it.  Homosexuality has been technically illegal in Uganda for centuries, which is bad enough, but the current climate of hatred and dangerous intolerance can be linked to the heavy involvement of American right-wing fundamentalists in Uganda.  Groups like The Family, who make a mockery of the teachings of Christ.  The Family have some warped "strength" interpretation of the Gospels which makes them very excited about fascist regimes in Africa.  They are all over Uganda, and include a disturbing number of Senators who have used U.S. tax dollars to fulfill their quasi-religious agenda of propping up military dictators. It is unacceptable that the American "Religious" Right is so actively engaged in activities that result in the loss of human rights for people not just here, but all over the world.  The lack of separation of Church and State is unacceptable.  The perversion of Christ's teachings is unacceptable.  

There has long been tension in the Religious Society of Friends because many Quakers in my branch of the faith (loosely affiliated into the Friends General Conference) do not want to belong to organizations or share funds with groups that are intolerant of people who are gay.  The Friends United Meeting includes Meetings that are intolerant of people who are gay and let's not even talk about the yet more conservative gatherings of Friends.  F.U.M. has done a lot of life-saving relief work in poor regions of Africa so many Friends feel torn, wanting to help people who need help but not wanting to mingle funds with a group that has intolerant policies.  Also, many "convergent" Friends want the various branches of Quakerism to find unity and all be one group together as we have not been since way back in the days before Elias Hicks and our big split.  

My feelings on this have become clear.

I don't want F.U.M. or any so-called religious group with intolerance in their hearts in Uganda.  I don't want this hatred to spread.  I don't want anything to do with branches of the Religious Society of Friends who would be part of denying human rights to our gay brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am not interested in convergence.  Sometimes getting along is not worth it.  There is too much at stake. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Very Daisy Christmas

I am so bursting with pride for my little Daisy Girl Scout Troop!  We took them Christmas caroling at a nursing home tonight and they were wonderful!  Just wonderful!  We had sort of planned for standing in the dining hall and singing but the timing was off and lots of the people living at the nursing home were in their rooms and hallways already so they asked if we could walk up and down the halls singing.  We had only practiced 5 songs, but those little Daisy Girl Scouts sang them over and over and over again, walking up and down all the halls and handing out the ornaments they had made to the people we passed.  They darted into rooms and gave people ornaments, singing all the while and shaking the maracas that our wonderful Cookie Mom brought along. 

They were so brave!  When I used to take the Lone Star Girl's Brownie Troop caroling at this nursing home, they were really scared at first, but these little Daisy Girl Scouts were courageous from the get-go.  They were so happy to freely give their songs and smiles and little presents.  I am so proud of them!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And More Flu Dodging

On Monday while driving to school, I saw a sign outside a Walgreen's that said something about H1N1 vaccines.  I called the Walgreen's as soon as I could before classes started and asked about it and they said they would be vaccinating until 7pm that night.  I e-mailed Lone Star Pa and said I'd be home to take over with the kids in time for him to go between 6pm and 7pm.   He got his vaccine, so now the whole family is vaccinated.  Yay!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

She's A Mean Little Orphan

The Lone Star Girl has been cast as Pepper in her school's upcoming production of Annie.  (Sort of makes you wonder how tall the kids playing adults must be...)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Angel For The Tree

I bought this craft kit to make an angel tree topper from Chinaberry quite a few years ago, possibly before the Lone Star Baby was born, but we never seemed to get to it.  This year, we did.  It was really a great project for them because there were parts that were just hard enough for each of them.  And now ... we have a lovely, daughter-made angel  on top of our tree!

The Girl With Silver Hair

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Girl Scout Love

Both my troops, the Daisies and the Cadettes, have made collection boxes for toothbrushes, combs and deodorant and set them out at their schools.  They are organizing collection drives at their schools for the Mother Theresa shelter, a local day shelter that provides a place for people who are homeless to go in the day-time where they can do laundry, etc.  I am so proud of the girls, out trying to do a good turn daily, as the Girl Scouts say.  One of the Lone Star Girl's teachers has been really helpful in spreading the word, and the Lone Star Baby is so excited whenever she takes combs or toothbrushes or deodorant to school to put in the box.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Through Dangers Untold And Hardships Unnumbered....

I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city to tutor children after school and attend a Girl Scout Service Unit meeting and search unsuccessfully for a reasonably priced microwave at Target (because ours died last night and if we need any sort of gadget, that's definitely the one) and so move on to H-E-B Plus where I found one and did eons of grocery shopping and finally journeyed home to nearly sleeping children and an ungrateful man.  (Why do we keep men around anyway?  Oh, yes - I remember:  to kill roaches.  That is important.  Roaches are the spawn of hell.)

Fortunately, my grandmotherly person had just sent me a check for Christmas and that paid for the microwave.  How many of the thousands of things that I still need to do during this waning week will I take on tonight?  Just making lunches and bathing, I think.  And I may skip bathing.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Stalker In Red

The Lone Star Girl was waxing angry the other day about the new computer access that parents now have to lesson plans and student grades in our district.  The funniest little conversation ensued:

LSG (hissing at me):  Stalker.

LSB:  What's a stalker?

Me:  Um, someone who is always watching you.

LSB:  Like Santa?

St. Nicholas Day

Happy St. Nicholas Day!  Last night, the girls each put a shoe out under the Christmas tree before going to bed and St. Nicholas came and left them each a small surprise in the night.  The Lone Star Girl found a gift card to the mall in her shoe this morning and the Lone Star Baby found a secret message decoder pen in her shoe.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Harbor Lights

My mom is in town for a visit (staying at my sister's) and we all went to the Harbor Lights festival tonight.  It was really fun despite the fact that we were freezing.  The Lone Star Baby was uncharacteristially disinterested in the children's area and bouncy toys - at first she just wanted to home because she was cold, I think.  I got her a light stick and some cotton candy and she started to get happy, though.  We listened to a local musician, Jennifer Pena, until Santa appeared inn his special motorcade.  Then there was a laser light show before the lighting of the big Christmas tree.  We watched the illuminated boat parade from the sea wall.  It was nice ... but cold.

Friday, December 04, 2009


The Lone Star Baby says we do "activities" in winter.  I think this word is an unconscious conglomeration of "Advent" and "Nativity".  She means the new magnetic advent calendar and the regular Advent Calendar where we read the little books every night and hang them on a little Advent tree and moving the Magi and stuff.  She's so sweet.